We embark on the final weekend of MLB play with wild card berths and home field advantage still hotly contested in both leagues along with fantasy leagues everywhere hanging in the balance. We're also at the point where "subject to change" should accompany every paragraph as pitchers and hitters are both replaced last minute, depending on their team's stead. Here's the skinny as things stand now, as usual we'll update as news breaks.
The marquee matchup on the docket features a pair of southpaws squaring off, each with something to pitch for. Rich Hill leads the Los Angeles Dodgers into AT&T Park to take on Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. The home team is battling for a wild card spot while the visitors still have a chance for the National League's best record and home field advantage through the NLCS. Of the two, Bumgarner is in a much better spot, since securing a playoff berth trumps seeding. Not to mention, by the numbers the Dodgers aren't as productive as the Giants versus lefties while fanning at a higher clip. Hill's projected Game Score may be a tad higher than Bumgarner but the Giants left-hander is the better DFS play.
Confession time: Yu Darvish missed the elite tier by decimal points but I look at the game and it sure seems like an elite matchup. The Texas Rangers host the Tampa Bay Rays with a leg up on the best record in the American League and home field throughout the playoffs. Darvish's projected Game Score was slightly nicked by a rough September that began with three outings spanning 15 2/3 innings where he allowed 13 runs. However, the right-hander bounced back with a stellar effort against the Athletics last time out, featuring nine whiffs to only one walk in seven frames. The allure of this affair is the upside emanating from the visitors 25 percent strikeout clip with a righty on the hill. Bumgarner is safer for cash while Darvish has a higher ceiling for GPP action.
Michael Pineda has one last chance to drive analysts and DFS gamers crazy with a date in Yankees Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles. The guests are in the throes of the wild card hunt while the hosts are hanging on by a thread. Pineda is a crapshoot capable of stifling the opposition with a bevy of punch outs or getting an early shower. If you have the fortitude, Pineda's in play for tournament action.
Except for a couple of blips, Carlos Martinez has had a solid second half. Though, it may not be enough to propel the St. Louis Cardinals into the wild card game as they need some help to capture one of the two berths. The Redbirds host the Pittsburgh Pirates in Busch Stadium. The DFS friendliness of this affair revolves around the lineup the Bucs use. Regardless, Martinez is in play for cash games but he could be in the mix for tournaments if the Pirates use some second-stringers.
Keeping in mind Carlos Rodon is still just 23-years old, the Chicago White Sox southpaw's sophomore campaign was a mixed bag, marked by inconsistency. He exhibited better control with an increased penchant for allowing the long ball. Rodon has a chance to end his season on a high note against a Minnesota Twins club that whiffs at an elevated rate versus lefties, yielding Rodon in the mix for GPPs.
Rick Porcello will be in an intriguing scenario. The Boston Red Sox are still in the running for best record while the right-hander has designs on the AL Cy Young award. It remains to be seen how long Porcello will be allowed to stay on the hill. There's already some risk facing the dangerous Toronto Blue Jays. Factor in the chance he only tosses five or so frames, Porcello is strictly a contrarian GPP option since man will be scared off by the risk.
Robert Gsellman is coming off the best game of his young career, blanking the Philadelphia Phillies for seven innings, fanning eight with only two walk and three hits. The New York Mets rookie has a rematch with the Phils, this time on the road in Citizens Bank Park. While expecting a repeat of his gem last time out is optimistic, Gsellman sets up just fine for DFS play. The results are mixed since Taijuan Walker altered his mechanics. On one hand, he's punched out 24 while walking six over those three outings. On the other, the last two only lasted 5 1/3 stanzas, giving up three runs in each. The Seattle Mariners entertain the Oakland Athletics, putting Walker in play for GPP but keep in mind the A's regulars don't whiff excessively so it would be better if they're using some reserves.
If you had Daniel Norris in your weekly lineup, you caught a bit of a break with Thursday's postponement, as now the Detroit Tigers lefty draws the Atlanta Braves on the road -- and not the Cleveland Indians at home. Losing home field advantage is mitigated by not facing a designated hitter in Turner Field. The drop off in quality of opposition isn't as steep as may be perceived, but it's still sufficient enough that if you were benching Norris against the Tribe, he's good to go facing the Braves.
A.J. Cole can get the Washington Nationals one step closer to the best record in the Senior circuit with a victory over the visiting Miami Marlins. Keep in mind Cole was suspended for throwing at Jung Ho Kang but since it's under appeal and not likely to be ruled upon before Friday, Cole's able to take the hill in Nationals Park. Assuming he's able to go, Cole's in play as a streamer.
There's not many scenarios where Braden Shipley profiles as a streamer but facing the San Diego Padres, even at home, qualifies as one of the times to use the rookie righty. It's still best to look for better options but with three days left in the season, desperate times call for desperate measures. The Friars are weak versus righties in tandem with offering an elevated strikeout total.
Brad Peacock likely won't hurl more than five or six frames but if you need a little ratio support with a couple whiffs and a chance for a win, the Houston Astros will be favored at home facing Daniel Wright and the Dodgers.
Brent Suter comes out of the Milwaukee Brewers to take the ball in Coors Field. The 27-year old lefty has been effective as a reliever, but being asked to start on the road against the Colorado Rockies is a tall task.
Joining Suter as incendiary to your ratios are Raul Alcantara and Daniel Wright. Alcantara takes the ball for the Athletics in Safeco Field while Wright toes the rubber in Minute Maid Park against the Astros.
Two of the better hitting parks in the league, both situated in the NL West will have busy scoreboard operators so let's begin with an under-the-radar game that will also feature a bunch of runs. The Tigers visit the Braves in the final interleague series of the season. The Tigers hitters may be in a trap game against Matt Wisler, who can be effective versus right-handed swingers and the men from Motown are largely righties. Still, the Tigers are playing for the wild card game so Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez make an intriguing pivot from the chalk.
On paper, the right-handed unit of the Colorado Rockies has the edge with a southpaw on the hill for the Brewers. The catch is Suter isn't stretched out so there will no doubt be some ensuing righty relievers. Still, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Tom Murphy aren't likely to be lifted for a pinch-hitter so they're in play. Ryan Raburn is an option but beware, he could be taken out early. Using Charlie Blackmon is in play since some may back off with the initial lack of platoon advantage. The Brewers don't have many lefties other than switch hitter Jonathan Villar and Scooter Gennett. That said, Ryan Braun, Chris Carter and Domingo Santana are threats to take Chad Bettis deep.
The runs should also be rampant in Chase Field with the San Diego Padres deploying Edwin Jackson against Shipley. The Padres are in play against Shipley include lefty swinging Alex Dickerson and Ryan Schrimpf along with the switch hitting Yangveris Solarte. Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe have ample pop to be used without the platoon edge. The Snakes lefties Jake Lamb and Socrates Brito are favored with the platoon bump while Paul Goldschmidt and Jean Segura have been productive all season.
Most likely to hit a homer: Robinson Cano
Remember when Safeco Field was going to cost Cano his power stroke? The second baseman is threatening 40 long balls with a good chance to inch closer against Raul Alcantara and his 2.2 HR/9.
Most likely to steal a base: Brian Dozier
Dozier is on the verge of a 20-stolen base season so he's motivated to keep running. Motivation is a good thing when it comes to swiping bags.